The Robot Arsonist That Cost Ocado $137 Million!

The Robot Arsonist That Cost Ocado $137 Million!

Last year huge British online grocer Ocado, partnered with the acclaimed robotics firm Kroger in an attempt to get ahead in the ongoing race between large companies to acquire the most seamless and effective shipping possible. At the moment having a fast delivery time is crucial for large companies to succeed, with business giants like Amazon offering on day delivery, competition is through the roof. Ocado, therefore, hoped on a trend of establishing a robotic presence in factories and delivery warehouses, which for many businesses has proven extremely effective, although not many other businesses have suffered the crisis of a robot arsonist.

Despite the seemingly positive connotations of this innovation, a recent February report from Ocado detailed an allegedly massive fire, which managed to engulf an entire warehouse and every single item in it in a short period of time, this fire is said, by the company, to have been started by one of their Kroger developed robot workers. The official cause of the fire was stated by Ocado to have been caused by a short circuit of one of the bots battery packs leading to it catching fire. Ocado has heavily stated that the robot was to blame.

The Huge Cost Caused By the Robot Arsonist

The reported price tag of rebuilding and restocking for Ocado was pinned at 137 million dollars, a huge sum to lose. That figure may not even be finished rising yet as Ocado likely will need more expenses to fully catch back up to the speed they were previously operating at. Last year Melonee Wise, robotics pioneer and CEO of Fetch Robotics was quick to speak out saying, “I honestly hope 2019 is the year that robot safety becomes a top priority, the potential mistakes of one robotics company could set our industry back for years.” Unfortunately, it would appear that Kroger was not very receptive towards this advice.

So what will this mean for the future of automated business processes, well the story of Ocados losses will likely be seen as a cautionary tale by many businesses, however Its highly unlikely that this will even slightly slow down the rapid progression of businesses into using robots in every way they cost-effectively can. This may affect the robotic development industry to a degree as Melonee said, it’s possible that all new rules and regulations could be put in place to ensure no more accidents happen in the future. One plus side is that no one has been reported as being injured during the fire.

For Kroger as a robotics developer this could mean disaster, with a mistake on this scale Ocado may rethink their big-money deal in favor for a more reliable developer, and if that does happen it would likely be very hard for Kroger to pick up another major customer after that, perhaps they will try to bounce back with a new groundbreaking innovation, time will tell.

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